Daily Devotion Feb. 2, 2024

Read Philippians 4:4-13

Devotional Thought

     Peace is a hard commodity to come by these days. We have become a restless people. The number one factor in vehicular accidents is sleepiness. Doctors say that most of us need a minimum of seven to nine hours per night. Few of us meet this standard.

     What is keeping us up? Why does the church spend more money on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications for its pastors than it does on missions? Paul claimed that he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12, NIV).

     Contentment is a cousin of peace. To be content is more than just feeling satisfied. To be content is to be at peace deep within one’s soul.

     Strangely enough, Paul acknowledged that he was content regardless of whatever privileges he may or may not have. Paul prompts me to think. Would I feel just as content if some or all of my own personal privileges were taken from me? How might I react if I didn’t receive the things I feel I deserve? Would I feel just as content if I did not have the things I think are due me? (Note the number of times the pronoun “I” reoccurs in these questions.)

     The condition of contentment that Paul is describing falls beneath the umbrella of grace. By definition, grace is the favor of God given to us whether we are deserving or not. Paul claimed to be content regardless of what he had or did not have simply because he was undeserving of such things in the first place. Paul recognized that he wasn’t entitled to anything. In other words, God owed Paul nothing.

     Given such an understanding, it seems reasonable to me to conclude that our society’s increased level of discontent is due to the fact that we believe God owes us. We have convinced ourselves that we deserve special privilege. In other words, we are making ourselves miserable by means of our own expectations.

     I realize that what I am writing runs counter to what some Prosperity Gospel preachers would endorse. Yet, the Scripture clearly indicates that the pathway to contentment bypasses all hints of presumption. John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer is one that leads us toward a non-presumptive life with these simple words:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside by thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.